2 weeks later
After Dale fainted during his match with Feng, he decided to be much more conservative with his strength. Practicing an Art without having formed his Core was already difficult enough. He instead decided to focus on forming his Core and advancing. Dale has been at the peak of the 10th layer of innate strength for several weeks. Breaking through and forming a Core isn’t very difficult, but it requires a sense of calmness and strength. Over the past two weeks, he had slowly meditated his energy to the fullest it could be, using the time in between his classes to focus. Core formation was the very first step a cultivator took in his journey to gaining a powerful Gem Core.
Dale sat meditating in his room, concentrating all the energy he had through his veins, and slowly formed a focused ball of energy next to his heart, building it up more and more.
Suddenly, an overflow of energy raged through Dale, like a ship at sea tossed around during a storm. It felt like his arms were going to tear apart, as the energy in his veins went wild and then suddenly, with no warning, compressed into a solid ball near his heart. The fluctuations sent small waves of power out of his skin to disperse in the air.
Dale tentatively focused on the ball of power there, and felt an incomparable amount of energy.
Success! Dale had successfully formed his Core!
He fell over, sweating, covered in grime, but very happy as well. His limbs shook as he steadied himself on his bed. He felt a deep sense of tiredness, as if he had ran for several miles.
Dale had learned in the classes he took here of the various stages of cultivation. The most basic stage is the Innate Strength Stage(1st stage). This is a stage every human can practice, for the most part, and all it involves is focusing strength through his energy veins to form a Core. Dale, however, is now a part of the second stage, and has successfully formed his Core. He is now in the Condensing Stage(2nd stage). In this stage, he will condense the energy in his core, and slowly form metal layerings over it. The sheen and aura of the metal instantly allow someone to determine what level someone is at. In order, the lowest level, and Dale’s current level in this stage, is the Coal Metal Core. Followed by the Copper Metal Core, Iron Metal Core, Steel Metal Core, Silver Metal Core, Gold Metal Core, and Golden Gem level core. Each of these levels indicates a large jump in strength. For instance, someone at the Iron Metal Core stage will generally have the strength of 3 separate peak Copper Metal Core experts. This was more a general rule of thumb, and specific cases could be the exception.
After one successfully cultivates to the Black Gold level, they will reach the last bottleneck in cultivation. This is to form, from your Black Gold Metal Core, a genuine Divine Gem. When a human cultivates into the 3rd stage, a Divine Gem forms inside of them, granting them a Divine bloodline and a massive increase in power.
This is the 3rd and final stage, and is called the Core Gem Stage(3rd stage). Core Gem stage experts are extremely rare; In the entire Kingdom of Morn, there is not a single Core Gem expert.
Today, Dale had successfully managed to break through to the Coal Metal phase. As a Metal Practitioner, his body would be greatly strengthened and his energy veins would be able to bear much more stress.
Dale believed the main reason he blacked out after using his Slowed Fist Time Arts technique was because of his yet to be formed Core Metal energy. Now that his strength had jumped several levels, he should be able to use his Slowed Time art for a short period of time without such severe side effects. Dale got up, and walked over to the corner where he kept his wash bucket, pouring some water over himself, cooling down.
Feng abruptly barged in to his room, “Dale guess what I- geez what’s this smell?” he said, glancing around with an uncomfortable look on his face. He stared at Dale.
“I just managed to break through to the Metal Core level.” Dale said, excitedly, still shaking a little.
Feng gaped at him, “That’s-wha-I I just broke through as well!” he said, astonished. Feng had been hoping to surprise his friend with the news, only to find out they were now both Core Metal Practitioners.
“We can finally join the more interesting classes!” Feng cried, happy for his friend and himself.
The classes Feng and Dale currently took were not the most interesting classes. Dale took Ethics, Geography, Math, and Basic Martial Cultivation. Feng was taking Ethics, Geography, Court Law, and Basic Martial Cultivation as well. However, the level of other kids their age was pitiful compared to them. The strongest kid that was the same age as them was only at the 7th innate strength layer, a far cry from their newly attained Metal Core cultivation.
Feng suddenly grinned excitedly, “Do you remember what they said about the monthly ranking system? How you can raise your ranking by participating in tournaments?” he said, with a light in his eye.
Dale nodded, knowing where Feng was headed.
“Let’s participate in the Main School Representatives Tournament next month!” Fend said, full of vigor and cheer. He was practically jumping up and down.
The Main School Representatives Tournament was a tournament where the top 10 winners are chosen to battle as Representatives of the Main School in the Inner School Ranking Battle. The Inner School Ranking Battle was the largest event of the year, a massive annual tournament where only the geniuses of each school could participate. Because Feng and Dale were members of the Main School, they would have to work extra hard if they wanted to participate in such a massive tournament.
The prize for winning the tournament had yet to be posted, but last year it was a Silver Metal Monster Core. Such a prize could massively boost one’s cultivation rate, allowing you to shoot through the rankings. It was said that the top 100 rankers were allowed to peruse arts from the private teacher’s room in the Library.
“Come on Dale!! Let’s go sign up!” Feng yelled loudly, running out the door.